Updated:TAVARES, Fla. —
Lake County leaders and residents celebrated the grand opening of new sand volleyball courts in Tavares Saturday morning.
Construction of the courts started in April.
The complex at the Hickory Point Recreational Facility features 20 courts, professional nets and intercom systems.
County leaders hope the facility will eventually host amateur and professional events.
"Ten years. As they say, 'perseverance does pay off," said the President of the Florida region of USA Volleyball Steve Bishop.
Bishop said he searched everywhere for his own field of dreams, and found it at the 2-acre complex.
“The NCAA introduced it as an emerging sport three years ago and it has done from zero to 40 teams across the U.S. in a three year period,” Bishop said.
Bishop organized Olympic-level tournaments all over the state and said the property owned by the Lake County Water Authority was perfect.
Construction cost the county $400,000 that was pulled from tourism tax dollars.
“You need to use it to promote tourism, and the one thing about beach volleyball is that we know it will put heads in beds,” said Lake County Commissioner Jimmy Connor.
Organizers said each tournament would bring in about 600 players and spectators, who would fill local hotels and restaurants.
Despite the site being near a retention pond, water authority officials said the area will not flood.